The recommendations were robust this week in the editorial office, where we had conversations about a cool band The Alternate Routes (pictured), a Connecticut band that hits Shank Hall later this month. We also talked about a solid menu item at Mi-Key's, some helpful books about fatherhood and food choices, some eco-friendly shopping bags and a very cool iPhone application.
The Alternate Routes' "The Watershed EP" -- This youthful roots-rock outfit from Connecticut first gained attention with its 2005 debut, "Good and Reckless and True." With a singer that will remind you of Fountains of Wayne or maybe even Glenn Tilbrook ("Love Me For Nothing"), and songs that are part Del Amitri ("Shelly") and part The Band ("Asked You Twice"), The Alternate Routes are definitely worth checking out live. Luckily for us, the band plays at Shank Hall at 8 p.m. Oct. 26 with Jonathan Tyler & The Northern Lights. In the meantime, get familiar with the band via this five-song EP on Vanguard Records. --Bobby Tanzilo
The turkey burger at Mi-Keys -- Last week the fine people at Fuel Milwaukee suggested that we have lunch at Mi-Keys, 811 N. Jefferson St. I'd previously only had cocktails there, so I was interested in finding out about the food. I went for the turkey burger. Listed as a "Bacon Wrapped Ground Turkey Burger," I opted against the Nueske's bacon (nothing personal, just wasn't in the mood) and did the plain burger. I'm here to report that the half pound adobo seasoned turkey patty was grilled to perfection, juicy and generously topped with aged Wisconsin cheddar, tomato, lettuce and avocado mayo. Very, very good. As an added bonus, the bun was also wonderful -- light and fluffy without being too bready. Good fries on the side, too. --Jeff Sherman
Tucker Bags -- I have every intention of bringing my own bags to grocery stores, but it seems, more times than not, I either leave them in the car or forget them altogether. Finally, I bought two Tucker Bags, which are large polyester bags that hold up to 35 pounds and fold into a little pouch about the size of a coin purse. I keep the Tucker Bags in my purse and have them with me at all times. I cannot believe how handy they are, and how many fewer plastic bags I acquire. Plus, they are available in lots of styles, from plain to super cute. Get these at Oniomania, 6430 W. National Ave., or at www.tuckerbags.com. --Molly Snyder Edler
Armin Brott's series of fatherhood books -- Expecting and new moms will find a ton of books devoted to every facet of pregnancy and motherhood, but new dads' choices have been limited. At least two friends recommended I read Brott's "The Expectant Father," during my wife's pregnancy, and I found that most of the lessons I learned paid big dividends. Now that the baby is born, I've moved onto the sequel, "The New Father," and will graduate to "Fathering Your Toddler" in a year or so. Brott, whose registered trademark is "America's Most Trusted Dad," breaks down the daunting job of fatherhood in easily digestible chunks. Chapters are grouped chronologically, with plenty of bullet points, no-nonsense tips and just enough warm anecdotes to keep the books entertaining. Brott points out early on that men parent differently than women, and he addresses dads' challenges, hopes and fears, head-on. His series is a must-read for any guy with a baby on the way or one that has newly arrived. --Andy Tarnoff
Rice Krispies treats -- Now that the weather is getting cooler, I'm developing a hankering for baked goods. Chocolate chip cookies are a personal favorite, but you really can't go wrong with the Rice Krispies Treats. Sure, you can buy the pre-made version in the store, and they're OK. But, they have a strong, almost artificial aftertaste and leave a weird film in your mouth. Make a batch at home. If you get adventurous, toss a layer of melted chocolate chips in the middle. Get it rolling before the game starts and you're happily munching by halftime. --Drew Olson
"Snack plates" -- My kids went from eating almost anything, to being extraordinarily picky about food. Refusing to serve macaroni and cheese every night, I started making them something I call "snack plates." Basically, I put little piles of all different combinations of foods on one plate, like raisins, goldfish crackers, diced apples, cubes of cheese, nuts, pickles sliced into coins or whatever else I have that's snacky. I also put one of their vitamins on the plate, since they are obsessed with their gummy bear vitamins. The snack plate allows them to have lots of variety and to make choices, while still eating a healthy meal. Best of all, it's super easy. --Molly Snyder Edler
"Eat This, Not That" -- The easy to use and understand "Eat This, Not That" food columns started at Men's Health under editor David Zinczenko and Matt Goulding, the magazine's food and nutrition editor. Now, they've become books that make comparing foods easy and kind of fun. Face it, it's hard to read labels much less understand fat content, etc., so these simple illustrated guides to thousands of foods do the work for you. Who knew that a turkey potpie from Swanson's has 610 fewer calories than a turkey potpie from Pepperidge Farms? Or that at McDonald's, an Egg McMuffin, with just 300 calories, is actually a healthier choice than the pancakes. Sure there's probably some estimating here and some fuzzy math, but these books are worth the $10 12 you'll pay. --J.S.
Guitar Toolkit application for the iPhone -- I know people who would feel dumb spending $9.99 for a phone app, but this one is well worth the money. Not only can you tune a guitar or bass with the built-in microphone on the phone (You have a choice for 40 tunings, including Standard, Drop-D and Drop-C), but you can access a chord library with visual representations of where to put your fingers. There also is an adjustable metronome and a virtual guitar that lets you hear the sound of each string. It's just ridiculously cool and convenient to have a tuner at your disposal. Now, if I could just find a pick... --D.O.